On the Senate floor later this afternoon, the Democratic leadership brought forward a sensible jobs bill, which a Republican filibuster promptly killed.
The Dems’ plan deserved better. It was an infrastructure-investment bill — $50 billion in direct spending on transportation projects, $10 billion to get the National Infrastructure Bank up and running — which according to U.S. Department of Transportation estimates, would have created roughly 800,000 jobs. It was fully paid for — not a penny would have been added to the deficit — with a 0.7% surtax on millionaires and billionaires, representing just 0.2% of the population. Polls show broad, bipartisan support for the proposal.
But it didn’t matter. A 51-member majority backed the bill today, but that wasn’t enough to overcome a Republican filibuster. Note, GOP members not only blocked the bill, but also blocked the motion to proceed, preventing a debate on the bill. [Update: how many Republicans voted to kill this popular jobs bill? All of them. See below.]
Today, however, offers a bit of a twist. Instead of just killing popular and worthwhile jobs legislation, Senate Republicans will also get a vote on their alternative jobs package, intended to show that GOP leaders have something constructive to offer when it comes to job creation.
They apparently haven’t read their proposal if they think this is constructive.
The GOP’s legislation, in addition to providing some highway funding, would cut $40 billion in discretionary spending and implement a cockamamie House Republican proposal known as the REINS Act. As ThinkProgress Justice editor Ian Millhiser wrote, the REINS Act would cripple the government’s ability to regulate just about anything.
To call this a jobs bill is an insult to the language. Gutting the EPA is not a serious proposal to lower the unemployment rate.
The contrast between the two parties’ approaches couldn’t be more obvious. Dems offered a real policy, including provisions that have traditionally enjoyed bipartisan support, and which polls show the American mainstream backing enthusiastically. Republicans offered a joke.
One party seems to take the jobs crisis seriously, and any media report that says otherwise — be on the lookout for pieces saying the Senate defeated “two jobs bills” today, as if they were roughly equivalent — is misleading the public.
* Here’s the roll call on the Dems’ jobs bill. 47 Republicans, one independent (Lieberman), and one Democrat (Ben Nelson) voted to block the legislation, while 50 Democrats, one independent (Sanders), and no Republicans voted for it.